My inner writer/research geek just went nuts…

I logged into Feedly this morning and discovered a new feature.

Now, I’d consider myself a wannabe user of Feedly.  That is, I’ve loaded it with all the important feeds I’d love to be tracking.  And I “wannabe” opening it up and reading it more often than I do.

But, I don’t.  And I know why, too.

You see, I haven’t ever used it that much.  So I opted for the free account.  And actually using it for my ongoing writing research (staying on top of news and interesting topics) has been a pain.

Because I’ve been using Evernote to collect articles about the kind of topics I’d like to track in Feedly.  But you gotta pay up if you want the easy integration between Feedly and Evernote.  And I just didn’t care that much about Feedly to do so.

So every time I found something interesting, I opted for the cumbersome route of opening the article on its original website in a new tab, and then using the Evernote Chrome extension to clip the article to Evernote.

With all the extra steps involved, it always slowed me down, and eventually distracted me, sending me down the rabbit hole of extra Chrome tabs, and away from Feedly.

Someone at Feedly woke up to this — and took a good RSS reader and turned it into an incredible research tool…

Feedly just added a feature called Boards.

It’s like Evernote, built into Feedly, but without Evernote, and just for the thing Feedly is good at — tracking articles and ideas from publications across the internet.

Here’s roughly how it works.

  1. You use Feedly to subscribe to whatever sites you’re interested in. It uses RSS feeds to dynamically pull the content from those sites into your reader.
  2. Inside the Feedly interface, it’s fast and easy to go through all the articles from lots of sites, using keyboard shortcuts to navigate. (You can scan hundreds of articles per hour, if you’re really just looking through headlines on say, a tech news site.)
  3. When you catch something you’re interested in saving, you click a little star and it gives you the option to save to a Board. You can either use one you’ve created, or save to a new one.
  4. As part of saving to a Board, you can highlight specific text such as quotes you want to come back to later, or even leave a note for your future self about why the article is important or how you might want to use it in the future.
  5. Then, when it’s time to come back to the research, you can simply select the relevant board and it’s there for you to explore, with all your highlights, notes, and links back to the source articles.

How to use this to super-power your research…

At any given time, I’m exploring any of dozens of themes for upcoming writing.  I write for Breakthrough Marketing Secrets.  But I also stay on top of a bunch of topics for potential client work in the financial newsletter space.

Topics I’m interested in range from the world of marketing and business, to future technology, to economic and financial trends, to nearly every industry imaginable that has investing potential, to productivity, to psychology, to spirituality, and more.

I don’t necessarily want to bury myself in a billion articles about all these topics.  And sometimes, that’s what Feedly felt like.  But Boards creates an interesting solution.

It allows me to scan all of this information even faster, really just looking for the topics that will be most interesting, useful, or relevant going forward.  And if it’s something I might want to refer back to later, I can simply save it to a board.

Then, if the time comes to actually write about that topic, I have a collection of potential resources hand-picked and curated, to function as the starting point for either further research or jumping straight into the writing.

STOP THE PRESSES!  I had actually previously written that you couldn’t actually use Boards to clip articles from around the internet, and that you’d occasionally still have to use Evernote’s Chrome extension when doing more proactive research on a topic.  Not so.  They actually just launched a Save To Feedly Board browser extension, which makes this a HUGE all-around internet research tool.

For most writers I know, this is a huge productivity breakthrough in the ongoing quest to stay on top of a million topics, get inspired, and save research for potential future use.

There is one big BUT…

While I consider this to be an incredible tool, I have to warn you.  If you get excited, you’re going to have to pay up.

Feedly offers up to 3 boards in a free account.  Within about 15 minutes of discovering this feature, I maxed this out.  And if you’re a serious researcher, you will, too.

That means you’re going to have to pony up $65 per year if you really want to get the most out of this feature.

That may seem like a lot, when you can accomplish most of this by combining a free Feedly and a free Evernote account.

BUT…  Let me counter that with a quick illustration.

Let’s say you’re consistently efficient, and it takes you an extra 15 seconds per story to do a quick workaround for saving a story discovered in Feedly into Evernote.  And you don’t let the distraction throw you off.

That’s 4 stories a minute, or 240 stories per hour.

Now, if you’re a serious researcher, you probably find at least one story per day you want to save.  Even at that rate, across 50 work weeks in the year, you’re saving 250 stories.

Which works out to roughly an hour of extra time over the course of a year.  (The reality is that one big distraction can eat up an hour of extra time for most people I know.)

So what’s that hour worth for you?  Are you worth $65 per hour?  The reality is this works out to chump change if it’s a feature you’re really going to use.

And flip that around, your writing becomes far more valuable when you can pack it with interesting proof points, media quotes, and ideas connected from multiple sources.  This can increase sales generated by copy, and profits or royalties in your pocket.  In most cases, a minuscule improvement in response will more than cover the $65.  Multiply that by however many projects you do in a year, and it could be worth quite a bit to you.

(Oh yeah, and if you manage a TEAM, such as an in-house group of copywriters, you also get access to shared team boards, which could be used for collaborative research and idea storage.  Awesome!)

After being a wannabe Feedly user for years (and a wannabe RSS user for even longer), this has just crossed a magic threshold that allows me to consolidate so much of the research task into one simple place that it became a no-brainer.

Sounds like a breakthrough to me!

Click here for Feedly’s blog post on Boards…

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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